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Nick Cousins Got Another Big Goal for the Florida Panthers

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Nick Cousins celebrates his first goal since Nov. 6 with his Florida Panthers teammates in a 3-2 win over the Washington Capitals on Saturday. // Roger Lee Photographer (561) 866-2000

FORT LAUDERDALE — It had been some time, 34 games, since Nick Cousins found the back of the net for the Florida Panthers.

On Saturday night, Cousins knocked down a Dmitry Kulikov shot and deflected it past goalie Charlie Lindgren to open up the scoring in a defensive deadlock.

Cousins’ goal helped the Panthers beat the Capitals 3-2.

“I can’t remember the last time I scored, so it feels good,” Cousins told FHN.

”It feels nice to contribute, but at the same time, I don’t really base my season on goals and assists and stuff like that. It’s nice to get one and contribute; it was a big goal at the time.”

When Cousins does score goals, they come in big moments. 

His other two this season: A game-winning goal against the Seattle Kraken, and a game-tying goal in the final minute against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The latter — a wrist shot from the slot with 57 seconds to go against Columbus on Nov. 6 — happened to be the final one Cousins scored prior to Saturday night.

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While his latest was the first that did not stand as a game-tying or a game-winning goal, the Panthers needed it just as much to pull themselves out of a lull.

“It kind of feels good,” said Cousins, whose most famous goal was the Game 5 series-clincher in overtime against Toronto. “They all count, I think.

“Especially because we probably didn’t like our first period as much as we’d like. I thought they came out and played hard and made it especially tough on us. With the way we play, the first goal is huge for our team, especially at home.”

Cousins has gone through a lot since that last goal in November.

He was out of the lineup for a month after sustaining a concussion after being hit from behind by Jason Zucker.

That was in response to a Cousins hit on an Arizona Coyotes teammate.

Cousins’ hit on Juuso Valimaki has helped lead to quite a reputation around the league.

“Good for him,” Panthers coach Paul Maurice said. “It has been a bit of a grinder for him coming off his injuries and getting back to form, and he gets a goal in an area that he spends a lot of time in.”

After practice Monday, Cousins was out there working hard on what worked for him on Saturday: Causing chaos in front of the net and tipping the puck.

“He is the guy that gets in on the forecheck hard,” Sam Bennett said. “He can make plays, and I think the more games we get together, the more we’re going to find that chemistry again.

”We played really well together in the playoffs and provided that spark. We’re all guys that can get heavy on the forecheck and grind pucks, so I think that’s when we’re playing our best and I think we can do a little bit more than that.”

And Maurice believes he can see more of that from Cousins in the future as well.

“[Cousins] can make a play, he can hold onto pucks and he’s also very good in the corners with a puck behind the net willing to get to the front of the net,” Maurice said. 

“So, they have a style. They will close support a puck, anything from the back of the net to that right corner, Matthew kind of owns that area for them. So they can put it there and move.

”Nick’s the smartest. He’s actually got good offensive skills that he sees. He has the skillset to be on the power play, we just don’t have room for it as of right now, but he has those hands to be able to do that. And they are going to need somebody to control the puck for them. They can’t hold onto the puck just the two of them all night, so he can even control a puck in the corner.”

ON DECK

BUFFALO SABRES @ FLORIDA PANTHERS

  • When: Tuesday, 7 p.m.
  • Where: Amerant Bank Arena, Sunrise
  • Streaming ONLY: ESPN+/Hulu
  • Radio: WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
  • Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932, NHL app
  • Season Series (Panthers Lead 1-0) — At Buffalo: Panthers 4, Sabres 0 (Feb. 15). At Florida: Tuesday; April 13.
  • Last Season: Florida won 3-1
  • All-time Regular Season Series: Florida leads 55-45-8, 4 ties
  • Up Next for the Panthers: Thursday vs. Montreal, 7 p.m.

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